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A star on the rise!
Paul Kapeleris’ life changed in an instant when his musical career skyrocketed to fame after an extraordinary performance of Andra Day’s Rise Up on popular television program, Australia’s Got Talent earlier this year.
The now 23 year old with the angelic voice and exceptional piano playing skills is the 2019 Vision Australia Carols by Candlelight Ambassador.
The talented musician was born with only 15%; he now only has 5% vision which is slowly deteriorating.
Paul found a new meaning for life when his mother encouraged him to start piano lessons at the age of eight.
‘’It was very difficult as I couldn’t see the notes. Basically my teacher told me to practice and feel the notes with my eyes closed. The piano has a set structure so I don’t have to look to play the piano anymore. There’s a lot of muscle memory going on,’’ Paul explained.
From a young age, Paul would watch talent shows on television such as X Factor and Australian Idol, and would dream of doing something similar as he grew up. To Paul, music was what gave him the confidence and freedom to truly be himself.
Earlier this year, Paul completed his Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in music, which came after years of dedication to the piano and music.
Inspired by his mum, music teachers and professors, Kapeleris has had the privilege to learn from a variety of people over the years.
Kapeleris finds inspiration across the music industry with his idols being Sam Smith and Chris Stapleton for their ability to connect with their music and audience.
‘’I love Ed Sheeran’s songwriting ability, and Gary LeVox and Tori Kelly for the absolutely stunning vocals. All of these incredible artists have sculpted my own artistry in some way, and I am eternally grateful for their drive and passion to make music.’’
As Vision Australia Carols by Candlelight Ambassador, Kapeleris hopes to provide inspiration to those who don’t think they are good enough or have what it takes.
‘’Vision Australia has allowed me to live a life I would never have been able to live otherwise. They have provided me with support, got me out of the house with young adult social activities, and have taught me life skills through occupational therapy. Interacting with other people who have vision impairments is an enriching experience that, for me, would only have been possible through Vision Australia.’’
‘’As someone who has lived with a severe, degenerative vision impairment for all of my life, it means the absolute world to be given this opportunity. We are strong. We are powerful and can do anything.’’
‘’It is quite daunting knowing that I will be performing in front of an audience of millions of people on Christmas Eve. Not being able to see anything helps! It’s just me and that piano on the stage.’’
The rising-star is treating this journey as something special, something to be cherished with every second . Alongside writing his own music, Kapeleris is willing to take on every opportunity that comes his way, he’s going to grab it with both hands and never let go!
13 Nov 2019
A story of hope and determination
“I stared intently into my second baby Alfie’s eyes, desperately trying to remember if it was something I’d seen before. ‘I’m being silly,’ I told myself and picked him up again, his warm face resting up against mine.”
“It was a few weeks later I was looking adoringly into those same eyes when I saw it again, his eyes were constantly ‘flickering’. It was no longer a surprise as I was noticing it all the time now.”
Diana Fisk, mother to William (6) and Alfie (4) recalls her first few months with Alfie with a heavy heart but, as Alfie prepares for kinder next year, she and husband Rob have a new determination and a positive outlook on the amazing things that Alfie will be able to achieve.
After Alfie was diagnosed with Nystagmus – a condition of involuntary (or voluntary, in rare cases) eye movement, that may result in reduced or limited vision – there were tears, but surprisingly, through those tears came something different.
“This challenge could shape him in
a way we never could have imagined.”
The sadness and fear started shifting for Diana and her husband Rob as they realised that along with this diagnosis there was the hope of something new. They decided not to think about the limitations and focus on empowering Alfie. “We now understood the challenge that had been dealt to our little boy,” Rob says.
They made a decision right there and then that they would take his lead on the life he would live. He would literally be viewing the world in a different way, and they could only imagine what he would be capable of with that unique perspective.
To help accomplish that, the family reached out to Vision Australia, firstly to get support and helpful information via its website and more recently to help to prepare Alfie for his first big milestone – going to kinder next year.
Alfie’s Vision Australia specialist Sue, will visit Alfie at home regularly and will also go along to the kinder with the family to talk to the staff, explore the school and visit the classroom to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible for Alfie. “He can’t see things in the distance, so Sue and the teaching staff will also ensure he has a front-row seat in the classroom!,” Diana adds.
And, the Vision Australia team will be there for Alfie, as he discovers his personal challenges. Support varies, from orientation and mobility training, provision of Feelix library kits, his education and even helping with employment.
“It’s amazing to have such expertise available to ensure that Alfie is able to fulfil any dream that he may have growing up,” says Diana as she reaches out to the Australian community. “With your help to support Vision Australia, fears can be replaced by determination, by pride and by hope.”
Alfie with Louise from the Feelix Library
the challenge that had been dealt to our
29 Nov 2018
10 of the Best Carols to Sing By…
Christmas Carols have been around almost as long as the Christian music tradition - around 1600 years! For the last 80 years we have been celebrating the best and most popular songs written to celebrate this special time of year, and in 2018 you are sure to hear some of your favourites. Here are ten of Australia’s most beloved Christmas Carols.
Deck the Halls
The melody for this popular Welsh carol dates all the way back to the sixteenth century, although the English words as we know them today appeared in 1877. Believe it or not, this carol is where the phrase ‘tis the season’ originated, and remains popular among carol lovers young and old alike, despite some of the arguably silly lyrics. Fa la la la la, la la la la!
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Denis Walter, Marina Prior and Debra Bryne have all nailed this traditional English carol in the history of Carols by Candlelight. The original version from 1739 was much slower and somber than how we are used to hearing it today! The modern tune is based on a work called Festgesang by popular composer Felix Mendelssohn, and is an extremely popular song included in almost all carols performances. We love the soaring soprano descant in the last verse.
O Come All Ye Faithful
The earliest version of this carol dates back to the early 1600s, and no one really knows who composed the original. The full version has NINE verses, though we usually only hear the first four. The popular arrangement that we all recognise, by composer David Willcocks, was published in 1961. Everyone loves singing along particularly in the chorus where the words ‘oh come let us adore him’ get louder and louder as we sing out with joy! Our favourite performance has to be from 2014 when Marina Prior and David Hobson knocked it out of the Bowl!
O Holy Night
O Holy Night is a 19th Century French carol popularised in the 1990s and early 2000s by singers such as Mariah Carey, Josh Groban, Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli, and is almost always performed by a soloist. It is a celebration of light and hope with a range that would challenge even a professional singer. Silvie Paladino belts this one out like a champ!
One of the more recent traditional carols, Silent Night was composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber, and performed for the first time in a small Austrian town called Obendorf. Since then, the song has become one of the most popular carols among people all over the world. The 1935 version recorded by American singer and actor Bing Crosby is the third most best selling single of all time!
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
The origin of this Christmas carol lies in the English tradition where wealthy people of the community gave Christmas treats to the carolers on Christmas Eve. ‘Figgy pudding’ as described in the song is similar to our modern-day Christmas puddings. Written in 1935, this song with its simple, memorable lyrics now has many different versions and is one of the most popular Christmas songs sung by children all around the world.
Ding Dong Merrily on High
We love this joyful carol for the melodic refrain, “Glooo-or-or-or-or-or-oooor-or-or-or-or-or-oooor-ia!”, imitating the sound of church bells tolling out the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The tune to this carol is another early music piece dating from the 1500s, while the lyrics, first published in 1924, are practically modern. This song, with its intricate harmonies, is often performed by the choir at Carols By Candlelight - time for them to shine!
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph’s song was written in 1949 by Johnny Marks, the brother-in-law of Rudolph’s original creator, Robert L. May. Since then it has been performed and recorded by various popular artists such as Bing Crosby and Michael Buble. While some might call it a song just for children, we know that kids and adults alike continue to love Rudolph’s performance every year at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl!
Joy to the World
Joy to the World was the most-published Christmas hymn in North America throughout the 20th Century. It has appeared on perhaps more Christmas albums by solo artists than any other song, having been recorded by Andy Williams, the Supremes, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Cash, Nat King Cole, Neil Diamond, Pat Boone, Perry Como, Vic Damone, Mariah Carey and the acapella group Pentatonix, as well as many more. Sing along to it this year and feel the joy!
10. All I Want for Christmas Is You
Can you believe this song was first performed in 1994? Perhaps the most popular Christmas song of modern times, Mariah Carey’s bopping R&B number describes the need we all feel to be with our families at Christmas as more important than any gifts we could receive. Dami Im stunned everyone in 2016 with her incredible rendition at Carols by Candlelight.
Dami Im performed in 2016
27 Nov 2018
The best Christmas Eve in town!
Carols by Candlelight is the perfect way to spend your Christmas Eve - here’s why.
The festive season is fast approaching and parents everywhere are wondering how they’re going to keep their kids calm during the Christmas Eve hype. Well, there’s no need to stress…
Carols by Candlelight has been a classic part of the Aussie Christmas experience since its inception in 1938. Here’s why it’s the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit!
It distracts the kids
No night of the year is as exciting for the kids as Christmas Eve. What’s Santa going to bring? Will he make it? What if he gets stuck in the chimney? Carols keep that excitement in check and play to that love of Christmas.
A picnic, classic Christmas songs and an evening out will keep the kids busy, and there are plenty of other activities available in our Christmas Festival. From the moment the gates open, there’ll be plenty of excitement and fun, and the best part is, the kids will doze off to sleep in a heartbeat when you get home!
Christmas is about family, and Carols is the perfect way to make sure you get quality time with your loved ones before the New Year hits and everyone has to head back to work. Bring the whole crew down for the perfect gathering on the lawn.
It's about giving
Christmas is all about giving, and so is Carols! The event raises vital funds and awareness for Vision Australia. Their children’s services support kids who are blind or have low vision to help them live the life they choose. Every dollar makes a huge difference, and this year, we’ll be making Christmas even brighter! Keep an eye out for your chance to make an impact.
No matter the year, the Carols line-up means the songs themselves are beautiful. From the famous Denis Walter, who has been performing at Carols for more than 30 years, to new sensations like Anthony Callea, the performers on the show will have you singing your heart out.
What are you waiting for?
Book your tickets now!
Sign up for the Carols Club
29 Oct 2018
Carols through the years
Carols has a fantastic rich history that spans over 80 years! Here are some of our favourite snippets from the early years of this wonderful Christmas festival.
While Norman Banks is known as the driving force behind the creation of Carols by Candlelight, it was his secretary, Dot Dawson, who coined the iconic event name.
The proceeds of Carols during the years of World War 2 were shared between the Red Cross and the Comforts Fund, supporting Australian soldiers both returned and abroad.
In 1943, greetings from Lord Mayors across the world – including London, Ottawa, Capetown, Wellington, and even New York – were broadcast to crowds at Alexandra gardens during the event.
1949 saw the first major international spin-off, with a Carols by Candlelight event taking place in England. The Melbourne organisers sent a package of candles and sticks as a gesture of well-wishes.
In 1956, Carols was broadcast by television station GTV9 via three cameras – and expected to reach as far as Ararat, 160 miles away from transmission!
For a number of years through the 1950s, a parade of torch bearers would proceed through the grounds before the performances began. They were typically young women dressed in white flowing gowns.
Do you have a fascinating fact about the history of Carols by Candlelight? You can contact us to share your stories!
14 Sep 2018